Social Robots and Virtual Assistants for Older People: Identifying Technological, Social and Ethical Challenges

Social Robots for Older People

In today’s ageing society, many older adults are choosing to age at home rather than in residential care, raising concerns about the best ways to support individuals who live alone in old age. Much interest exists in the potential for new technologies to support “ageing in place”. However, there are challenges in ensuring technologies for independent living provide social support, and are not just designed to monitor older adults’ physical wellbeing. This project aims to examine the acceptance and social and ethical implications of using social robots and virtual assistants to provide support for older adults who live independently at home but are supported by aged care services.

This research will investigate the perceived need for social robots and virtual assistants in home-based aged care and examine older adults’ and care-givers’ acceptance of social robots and virtual assistants through a three-month trial of devices in older adults’ homes. The research will identify the ethical, technical, and social issues that need to be taken into account when deploying robots in aged care settings. Using this knowledge, the project will produce an ethics framework to inform decision-making about the use of social robots/assistants in aged care settings.

Research Team

Project Information

Funding Source Melbourne Networked Society Institute
Project Timeframe 2018-2019

Contact Details

Dr Jenny Waycott
Senior Lecturer, Computing & Information Systems

Email
jwaycott@unimelb.edu.au